Exercise important during pregnancy - what's right for you?

Are you planning a child? Are you pregnant? How fit are you? Is this your first baby, or one of many? Men are involved in this process. too, so listen up. It might do you good to find out the amount and type of exercise that would be acceptable for a new mom.

One of the first things you will find is that the people who surround Mom will have loads of helpful suggestions. And some of these well-meaning people will insist that any form of exercise is harmful.

Having a child isn't easy. A healthy, well-planned pregnancy takes preparation, and if you haven't planned ahead for the final run, you are going to come in last at the finish. Training, both in endurance and breathing techniques, is essential for an easy delivery. Whatever Mom has been doing for fitness before she became pregnant will usually be acceptable during the nine months of waiting. That is, within reason, of course, and if there are no signs of distress.

Exercise of any kind during pregnancy will help circulation in the legs, especially in the last trimester of pregnancy, and it will help in the support of lower-back muscles. Be careful not to over-stretch; hormones that are produced during pregnancy increase flexibility and can put stress on pelvic muscles. Perform your strength movements slowly, hold and release slowly.

There are several factors during pregnancy that can change your fitness ability. Excessive heat is one. If your temperature exceeds 101 degrees during or when you finish exercise, take steps to slow down, drink more water, and cool your body. Don't spend time in sports that raise your pulse rate too high and lower your oxygen level. I like to limit my pregnant students to below a 130 pulse count so they take in adequate oxygen. Adjustments to your present form of exercise are needed as you gain weight, especially during the last three months. Your balance will also change as you progress in the pregnancy because of this weight gain. Stay away from dangerous sports that have movements that can cause abdominal trauma, such as any striking or falling on the abdominal area. Curious about some of the dangerous sports? Don't get into sky diving, deep-sea diving, hang gliding, boxing, fencing, football, hockey or springboard diving. Walking is always a good, safe approach to exercise during pregnancy.

Pregnancy and delivery are hard work and require a body that can support itself and the new individual that is building a growing. Physical fitness remains a needed item for the pregnant woman. If your pregnancy is a normal one, and if your doctor agrees, you may be able to continue your present fitness program with modifications right up to the time of delivery.

n Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Senior Center.


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